I have been told to “get over it” when it comes to religion. I find that, as an atheist in secular environments, I’m still bombarded with religiousness. For example, I recently had a Research Design class in which the professor evoked God 3 times during the first lecture. I was understandably annoyed given that we attend a public university and I’m in a science program, where I should be able to expect a basic level of secularism. As opposed to, say, church. But, I’m thinking “yeah, I probably do let this get to me too much” so I agree in a somewhat superficial way because, hey, who wants to be pissed off anyway?
But then, after hearing this several times throughout the years, I really started to think about what it really means to be told that you’re blowing something out of proportion…
If I were Johnny Buddhist or Jewey McJewerson, I don’t think people would tell me to “get over it”. They might say something like “yeah that sucks” — sympathy regardless of true empathy. A social convention that strengthens camaraderie among friends.
In my experience, atheists get little to no sympathy. Why? I reserve the right to be pissed off at the fundamental maltreatment (direct or indirect) of atheists if I want to. And it’s not even that I’m personally pissed off for my own sake. I’m pissed off that I live in a society where people have absolutely no regard for others. I don’t mean that in a “you shouldn’t offend other people” way (because I think that’s garbage) but in a “people are different and that’s just the way it is” kind of way. There is a double standard that prevents racism, sexism, etc. towards minorities, genders, races, blahbity blah while at the same time completely ignoring atheists. And when I try to make that analogy to people, I usually get that face of “it’s so not the same”.
It is the same. Where I’m from, I thought I was the only atheist on the planet. I didn’t even know the word until junior high. I didn’t know “skeptic” until university when I discovered a whole community of people like me. When I told my mother I didn’t believe in God, it was like I was coming out of the closet. I was forced into being confirmed into the Catholic church because my atheism wasn’t taken seriously. “It’s a phase”. “What if you want to get married in the church someday”. “You’ll grow out of it”. “How can you look at this sunset and not believe in God”? How is that different from “have you tried not being gay?”, for example? Seriously. It’s the fucking same and I’m sick of having to justify my feelings to people as if my situation is nothing serious.
Why can’t I, as an atheist, expect the same kind of sympathy that a religious person, a homosexual, a visible minority, etc gets when they are screwed over by daily insensitivity and general ridiculousness? Again, not in the way that people should have to change who they are or what they say to hang around me, but to show me some sort of decency when my rights as a human being are infringed. Basic social conventions don’t go out the window just because I’m an atheist. I can be pissed off at things if I want to, because although I don’t have the right to not be offended I do have the right to be offended. And all I want in the world is for people to treat me with the same sympathy as they would treat anyone else.
Now I don’t think people are trying to be insulting when they say these things. But strangely, that almost pisses me off (at society) more! Because holy shit. Is the concept of “atheism” so below the radar of social issues that people don’t even realize that it’s not ok to tell us to get over being treated like garbage? And that when we are treated like garbage it is ok for us to get mad about it?
Aside: It’s one thing to get pissed off, it’s quite another to get on a soapbox on TV and say “I believe this so you have to not do anything that goes against that and pisses me off, wainh” (re: eucharist debacle).
I certainly don’t expect that I should be treated differently and I certainly don’t expect that I shouldn’t be offended, but I do expect my fundamental human rights to be respected and for people to treat me like a human fucking being.
This is not a phase.
I don’t give a fuck if people pity me and think I’m going to hell (a mystical magical place that I don’t believe in anyway).
I’m an atheist and it sucks when religion is stuffed in my face in a supposedly secular environment so I will get pissed off. Deal with it. Just like a religious person would (rightfully) get pissed off if I went into a church and started going on about evolution and the big bang.
PS…Religious people (not all, but many) think I’m an amoral, hell-bound subhuman who shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Why should I tolerate their views being stuffed in my face as if their beliefs aren’t a complete affront to my existence?